05 Oct
Exclusive 3:16 Interview with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz has made deep and important contributions to the fields of metaphysics, epistemology, logic, philosophy of religion, as well as mathematics, physics, geology, jurisprudence, and history. Even the eighteenth-century French atheist and materialist Denis Diderot, whose views were very often at odds with those of Leibniz, could not help being awed by his achievement, writing in his entry on Leibniz in the Encyclopedia, “Perhaps never has a man read as much, studied as much, meditated more, and written more than Leibniz… What he has composed on the world, God, nature, and the soul is of the most sublime eloquence. If his ideas had been expressed with the flair of Plato, the philosopher of Leipzig would cede nothing to the philosopher of Athens.” Gottlob Frege expressed similar admiration, declaring that “in his writings, Leibniz threw out such a profusion of seeds of ideas that in this respect he is virtually in a class of his own” Here he discusses many of his interests...

3:16: What made you become a philosopher? 

GL: From my youth onwards I reflected on how I might accomplish something notable for the honour of God and for the very best of the human race by means of the sciences. I have tried to uncover and unite the truth buried and scattered under the opinions of all the different philosophical sects, and I believe I have added something of my own which takes a few steps forward. The circumstances under which my studies proceeded from my earliest youth have given me some facility in this. I discovered Aristotle as a lad, and even the Scholastics did not repel me; even now I do not regret this. But then Plato too, and Plotinus, gave me some satisfaction, not to mention other ancient thinkers whom I consulted later. 

After finishing the trivial schools, I fell upon the moderns, and I recall walking in a grove on the outskirts of Leipzig called the Rosental, at the age of fifteen, and deliberating whether to preserve substantial forms or not. Mechanism finally prevailed and led me to apply myself to mathematics…. But when I looked for the ultimate reasons for mechanism, and even for the laws of motion, I was greatly surprised to see that they could not be found in mathematics but that I should have to return to metaphysics. This led me back to entelechies, and from the material to the formal, and at last brought me to understand, after many corrections and forward steps in my thinking, that monads or simple substances are the only true substances and that material things are only phenomena, though well founded and well connected. Of this, Plato, and even the later Academics and the skeptics too, had caught some glimpses… I flatter myself to have penetrated into the harmony of these different realms and to have seen that both sides are right provided that they do not clash with each other; that everything in nature happens mechanically and at the same time metaphysically but that the source of mechanics is metaphysics. 

3:16: Ok. Well, let’s start with your approach to truth and necessity. Are there ideas that are necessary – independent even from the mind of God? 

GL: No. Necessary truths are prior to the existence of contingent beings, they must be grounded in the existence of a necessary substance. 

3:16: So what’s the relationship between ideas and truth? 

GL: Natures and truths are modes. Modes are usually nothing but the relations of a thing to the understanding, or phenomenal capacities. The reason why a necessary proposition is true when no one is thinking must be objectively in some subject. The proximate cause of one thing is singular. And its cause must be in something. Therefore it must be in that in which is found the nature of things; that is, in the subject of ideas, or God. 

3:16: But you distance yourself from a strong form of Platonism don’t you – you don’t think ideas and and truths exist in a separate realm? 

GL: Exactly. One must not say, with some Scotists, that the eternal truths would exist even though there was no understanding , not even that of God. It is, in my understanding, the divine understanding which gives reality to the eternal truths, albeit God’s will have no part therein. 

3:16: So possibilities or ideas of things coincide with God? 

GL:  To put it briefly: the truth of necessary propositions is eternal. Truth is a certain reality independent of our thinking. Certainly some eternal reality always exists. That is, the truth of necessary propositions always exists. Therefore some necessary being exists. 

3:16: Are you a nominalist? 

GL: Nominalists are those believe that all things except individual substances are mere names and deny the reality of abstract terms and universals forthright. I consider the nominalist sect the most profound of all the Scholastics and the most consistent with the spirit of our modern philosophy. Nominalists, in accounting for the causes of phenomena , state that that hypothesis is the most successful which makes the fewest gratuitous assumptions. It follows that everything in the world can be explained without any reference to universals and real forms. Nothing is truer than this opinion, and nothing is more worthy of a philosopher of our own time. 

3:16: And are there propositions that are true even if the individuals they refer to don’t exist? 

GL: Of course. If, indeed, all the elephants were killed this proposition would continue to be true:” Every elephant is an animal,” actually being equivalent to this conditional: “ If there is some elephant (either it exists or not) it is an animal." Again, if there is a man (even though at present no one exists) necessarily it is an animal. 

3:16: So do you also follow the nominalist Hobbes and think truth depends on human will and  is in a sense arbitrary? 

GL: No. I confess that Hobbes seems to me to be a super-nominalist. For not content like the nominalists , to reduce universals to names, he says that the truth of things itself consists in names and what is more , that it depends on the human will, because truth allegedly depends on the definitions of terms, and definitions depend on the human will. This is the opinion of a man recognized as among the most profound of our century, and as I said, nothing can be more nominalist than it. But think Richard, in arithmetic, and in other disciplines as well, truths remain the same even if notation is changed, and it does not matter whether a decimal or a duodecimal number system is used. 

3:16: So how do you justify your thought about the non-arbitrariness of truth? 

GL: Truths necessarily presuppose some characters grounded in the permanent element in them, namely, in their relation to things. Although characters are arbitrary, their use and connection have something which is not arbitrary, namely a definite analogy between character and things, and the relations which different characters expressing the same thing have to one another. This analogy or relation is the basis of truth. For the result is that whether we apply one set of characters or another, the product will be the same or equivalent or correspond analogously. 

3:16: So what are ideas for you? Are they in the brain or something? 

GL: No , they are dispositions in the faculty of thinking. That ideas of things are in us means nothing but that God has impressed a power of thinking upon the mind so that it can by its own operations derive what corresponds perfectly to the nature of things. Although, therefore, the idea of a circle is not similar to a circle, truths can be derived from it which would be confirmed beyond doubt by investigating a real circle. 

3:16: And this is independent of language. 

GL: Yes. It would be better to assign truth to the relationship amongst objects of the ideas, by virtue of which one idea is or is not included within another. That does not depend on language and is something we have in common with God and the angels. And when God displays a truth to us, we come to possess the truth which is in his understanding , for although his ideas are infinitely more perfect and extensive than ours they still have the same relationship that ours do. So it is to these relationships that truth should be assigned , and we can distinguish truths, which are independent of our good pleasure, from expressions , which we invent as we see fit. 

3:16: Does all thinking require calculus? 

GL: No. In very composite matters a calculus is necessary but meanwhile I have a very hard regard for such problems as can be solved by mental powers alone insofar as this is possible, without a prolonged calculation, that is, without paper and pen. Therefore we ought to practice both in calculating and in meditating and when we have reached certain results by calculation we ought to demonstrate them by meditation alone. 

3:16: So you see calculus as a kind of prosthetic for thinking? 

GL: Yes. Once the characteristic numbers for most concepts have been set up the human race will have a new sort of instrument which will increase the power of the mind much more than optical lenses strengthen the eyes which will be as far superior to microscopes or telescopes as reason is superior to sight. 

3:16: Interesting. That analogy of the telescope is something we find being used in Husserl, Godel and Frege isn’t it. So on top of senses and imagination what we really need is understanding? 

GL: Well Richard, there are objects of still another nature which are not in any way included in what we notice among the objects of either the particular senses or common sense and which, consequently, are not objects of the imagination, either. Thus, besides the sensible and the imagination there is that which is only intelligible , the object of the understanding alone. 

3:16: Is it from this sort of conceptual analysis – understanding as a kind of intuition - that we get some of our metaphysical notions from? 

GL: The thought of myself, who perceives sensible objects and the thought of the action of mine that results from it , adds something to the objects of the senses. To think of some colour and to consider that one thinks of it are two very different thoughts, just as much as colour itself differs from the ‘I’ who thinks of it. And since I conceive that other beings have the right to say ‘I’ or that it can be said for them, it is through this that I conceive what is called substance in general. It is also the consideration of myself that provides me with other notions of metaphysics, such as cause, effect, action, similarity etc. , and even those of logic and ethics. Thus it can be said that there is nothing in the understanding that did not come from the senses, except the understanding itself, or that which understands. Such thinking I usually call blind or symbolic ; we use it in algebra and in arithmetic and indeed almost everywhere. When a concept is very complex we certainly cannot think simultaneously of all the concepts which compose it. But when this is possible, or at least insofar as it is possible I call the knowledge intuitive. There is no other knowledge than intuitive of a distinct primitive concept, while for the most part we have only symbolic thoughts of composites. 

3:16: Now in your ontology you have substances and their individual modifications and a third kind of attribute don’t you? 

GL: A being is either a substance or an attribute. But we may ask whether there is a third possibility, since time and space, for instance, are not subsistence things nor are their attributes. The same applies to the number and to order and relation. So there are attributes that are inherent in several subjects at once. Of that kind are, for example, order, time and place. 

3:16: And these kinds of thing, this third kind,  are they purely mental ? 

GL: Yes. It is no wonder that the number of all numbers, all possibilities, all relations or reflections are not clearly understood, because they are imaginary beings to which nothing does correspond in the real world. 

3:16: So you think relations can change without a change to the subject itself? 

GL: Well, a father becomes father as soon as his child is born , even though he, who happens to be in the East Indies, does not undergo change. That can be very well said if we are guided by the things of which we are aware; but in metaphysical strictness there is no wholly extrinsic denomination because of the real connection between all things. Therefore, as we say, all the extrinsic denominations, that is, those denominations which arise and perish without any change of the subject, simply because something changes in something else, seem to belong to relations. 

3:16: But strictly speaking you don’t think there really are any of those things do you? There aren’t any extrinsic denominations really are there? 

GL: True, Richard, true. There are no extrinsic denominations and no one becomes a widower in India by the death of his wife in Europe unless a real change occurs in him. For every predicate is in fact contained in the nature of a subject. Indeed, there are no extrinsic denomination at all in complete things, and nothing can be known or seen without being affected and undergoing a real change by this very fact, and this is typical of all intrinsic denominations. In abstract matters, however, we have recourse to this distinction of denominations just when we name something according to change without noticing the intrinsic changes that from this very fact follow from all the remaining things. 

3:16: That’s a bit hard to grasp. Can you give us an example of what you’re saying? 

GL: Sure. Take motion. When we mean true and actual motion and we are considering it from the mathematical point of view , we recognize a change denominating the distance in both things of which the distance is changed. We recognize however a real change only in that body which is the true subject of motion, whereas the other is at rest. All extrinsic denominations are grounded in intrinsic denominations and a thing that is seen really differs from one which is not seen; for the rays bring about a change in the thing itself. What is more , in virtue of the universal connection of things, the Emperor of China as known by me differs in intrinsic qualities from himself as yet not known by me. There is no doubt that each thing undergoes a change at the very same time and its needed time, in order for him once not known by me to become known by me. 

3:16: Ok, so you talk about the universal connection of things there, but if relations between two or more substances are just mental things are you really entitled to talk about a universal connection between things? 

GL: Ah, good question Richard. So now we’re not, let me stress this, we’re not addressing my hypothesis of pre-established harmony, whereby the soul finds in itself, and in its ideal nature anterior to existence the reasons for its determinations, adjusted to all that shall surround it. That way it was determined from all eternity in its state of mere possibility to act freely, as it does, when it attains its existence. Rather we’re addressing amore general harmony whereby the realm of efficient causes and that of final causes are parallel to each other. 

3:16: And is it God who in the instant of creation accommodates the internal states of each substance to each of the others? 

GL: Yes. God, comparing two substances, finds the reasons in each which oblige him to adapt the other to it. Note, the infinity of possibles, however great, is no greater than that of the wisdom of God., who knows all possibles. 

3:16: So God knows all the possible worlds. So you kind of invented the notion of possible words in this way didn’t you? 

GL: Well, God is not the author of essences so far as they are only possibilities. But there is nothing actual to which he has not decreed and given existence. 

3:16: Could God coordinate the same internal perception of a substance with two different external objects ? 

GL: Well, although every outer appearance is grounded in the inner constitution it can nevertheless happen that two different constitutions result in the same appearance; yet there will be something in common, and that is what philosophers call the “immediate formal cause.” 

3:16: And when you say that the reality of relations depends on understandings, you don’t mean human understanding do you? You mean God's? Is this a mix of, on the one hand, a nominalistic-conceptualist position, in that you say relations haven’t a reality in the external world, and, on the other hand, a realist view in that the least change in your denomination in a subject is correlated to a change in the internal properties of all things in the universe? 

GL: Yes. The reality of relations inhere without anyone being required to think them. Thus there are two things which only the divine understanding can realize: all the eternal truths and, of the contingent ones, those which are relational. Relations and orders are not imaginary since they are founded on truths. 

3:16: Russell thinks this is the absurd idea that relational propositions are meaningless. 

GL: But it's not at all if you trace the reality of each relation back to a relationship with the divine intellect. 

3:16: Why do you think the principle of contradiction is so important? 

GL: It is the great foundation of mathematics Richard. The principle of contradiction, or identity, is that a proposition cannot be true and false at the same time and in this way A is A and cannot be not-A. 

3:16: Another of your important principles is that of sufficient reason. So what’s that about? 

GL: It’s a principle of the need for giving a reason to the effect that every true proposition which is not known per se has an a priori proof, or that a reason can be given for every truth , or as is commonly said that nothing happens without a cause. 

3:16: And what about the principle of indiscernibles? 

GL: No two things are perfectly similar, or there cannot be two perfectly similar beings. 

3:16: Are the principle of contradiction and the principle of sufficient reason equally basic and fundamental according to you? 

GL: Yes. There are two great principles in our arguments; the principle of contradiction and that of the determinant reason. 

3:16: Ok, now you rest your discussion of the actual and the possible worlds, which we touched on earlier, on your principle of sufficient reason don’t you? 

GL: Well, the first question we have the right to ask will be why is there something rather than nothing? For nothing is simpler and easier for something. We must be able to give a reason for why they must exist in this way and not otherwise. 

3:16: So where is this reason? 

GL: It’s outside the series of contingent things, a necessary being , carrying the reason for its existence within itself. Otherwise, Richard, we would not yet have sufficient reason where one could end the series. And this ultimate reason for things is called God. 

3:16: But if God is self-sufficient, why is there a world? 

GL: One may say that as soon as God has decreed to create something there is a struggle among all possibles, all of them laying claim to existence, and that those which, being united, produce most reality, most perfection, most intelligibility carry the day. This is a conflict of reasons in the most perfect understanding which cannot fail to act in the most perfect way and consequently choose the best. 

3:16: So is Spinoza wrong to think that everything that could exist does exist as a necessary expression of God’s infinite power? 

GL: Yes he is. If all possibles were to exist there would be no need of a reason for existing, and mere possibility would be enough. So there would not be a God, except in so far as he is possible. But a God of the kind in whom the pious believe would be no more possible if the opinion of those who believe in the all possibles exist were true. 

3:16: So I guess David Lewis turns out to be like Spinoza in this. Interesting. You have an argument involving something you call compossibility to secure this argument against Spinoza and David Lewis don’t you? So what is compossibility? 

GL: The compossible is that which, with another, does not imply a contradiction. 

3:16: And does your theory imply that everything in the world is connected? 

GL: Yes. The universe, as we’ve said before, is all of one piece like an ocean. There is in actuality as much reality as possible. Essence or possible reality is what is distinctly thinkable without contradiction. Perfection is the degree of positive reality or the degree of affirmable intelligibility, so that something is more perfect is something in which more things worthy of being observed are found.. Nothing is more regular than the divine intellect, which is the source of all rules and produces the most regular, the most perfect system of the world, the system that is as harmonious as possible. Order, regularity and harmony are the same thing. God chooses laws that do not depend on a principle of necessity , as do logical , arithmetical and geometrical truths but upon principles of fitness, that is, upon the choice of wisdom. God creates different universes which are nevertheless only perspectives on a single one, corresponding to the different points of view of each monad. This is the way of obtaining as much variety as possible but with the greatest order possible, that is, it is the way of obtaining as much perfection as possible. 

3:16: Does God remain involved with the world once it’s created? 

GL: Yes. The reason that made things exist through God makes them still depend on him while they exist and bring about their effects; and they continually receive from him that which causes them to have any perfection at all. God’s concurrence is at the same time immediate and special. It is immediate since the effect depends on God not only by virtue of the fact that its cause originates in God, but also because God concurs no less nor more indirectly in producing the effect itself in producing its cause. The concurrence is special because it is directed not only at existence of the things and its actions but also at the mode and qualities of existing insofar as there is in them something of perfection which always flows from God. 

3:16: If God’s so much in charge, are we free or are we deluded if we think we are? 

GL: Intelligence is the soul of freedom. Intelligence involves a clear knowledge of the object of deliberation and occurs in the very use of reason. When we are the slave of passion we have the freedom of a slave. 

3:16: But aren’t you committed to the view that there are no contingent truths, that everything that is actually the case is necessarily the case? After all, your principle of sufficient reason seems to push you in that direction, as well as your view that God is omnipotent and wholly good and brings about whatever he wills, and your views about truth and logic don’t they? Are you a necessitarian? 

GL: The distinction between necessary and contingent truths is something not easily understood unless one has some acquaintance with mathematics. For in necessary propositions when an analysis is continued indefinitely, one arrives at an identical equation by means of an analysis continued to a certain point; this is what it is to demonstrate a truth with geometrical rigor. But in contingent propositions one continues the analysis to infinity through reasons for reasons, so that one never has a complete demonstration, though there is always, underneath, a reason for the truth, but the reason is understood completely only by God who alone traverses the infinite series in one stroke of mind. 

3:16: So contingent truths can’t be demonstrated a priori. We have to touch base with experience? So where does evil come from according to you? If God is the ultimate cause of everything then how can God produce sin without being responsible for the evil inside the sin? 

GL: Think of a painter Richard. A painter creates two paintings, one of which is so large that it may be used as a model for a tapestry, while the other is only a miniature. Consider the miniature. Let us say that there are only two things to consider with respect to it, first its positive and real aspect, which is the table, the background, the colours, the lines; and then its privative aspect, which is the disproportion in respect to the large painting, in other words, its smallness. Now it would be a joke to say that the painter is the author of everything that is real in the two paintings without nevertheless being the author of the disproportion between the large one and the small one. Besides, metaphysical evil can be a subsidiary good. We owe to deluges, inundations, telluric disruptions our riches and comforts and through their agency this globe became fir for cultivation by us. These disorders passed into order. Moral evil’s different. Only a supreme necessity may constrain one to comply with evil. If God chose what would not be the best absolutely and in all that would be a greater evil than all the individual evils that he could prevent by this means. This wrong choice would destroy his wisdom and his goodness. God only produces what is good in evil. 

3:16: The monad is right at the heart of your metaphysics isn’t it? You think the whole world is made of these things don’t you, a bit like elementary particles in modern physics? So what's a monad? 

GL: It’s nothing but a simple substance that enters into composites. 

3:16: What do you mean by simple here? 

GL: – simple, that is, without parts. 

3:16: Ok. And why must there be these simples? 

GL: Well, there must be simple substances since there are composites; for the composite is nothing more than a collection or aggregate of simples. Where there are no parts neither extension, nor shape, nor divisibility is possible. So these monads are the true atoms of nature and the elements of things. 

3:16: So monads existence is a condition for the existence of bodies? 

GL: Yes. There must be simple beings or else there would be no compound beings. 

3:16:  Is it supernatural? 

GL: It’s a simple substance and a true unity. I don’t admit simple bodies of course. There is nothing simple but true monads which have neither parts nor extension. Simple bodies and even perfectly similar ones are a consequence of the false hypothesis of the void and atoms, or of lazy philosophy, which does not sufficiently carry out the analysis of things and fancies it can attain to the first material elements of nature because our imagination would be therewith satisfied. 

3:16: How are monads individualized then? 

GL: Intrinsic denomination. 

3:16: And how do they change? 

GL: The monad’s natural changes come from an internal principle, since no external cause can influence it internally. 

3:16: So they’re like Aristotelian entelechies? 

GL: Yes. And in every monad besides the principle of change there must be diversity in that which changes which produces the specification and variety of simple substances. This diversity must involve a multitude in the unity or in the simple. Since all natural change is produced by degrees something changes and something remains. As a result there must be a plurality of properties and relations in the simple substance although it has no parts. 

3:16: And is it your view that each monad has a complete representation of the universe, even if most of this representation is inaccessible to each monad? 

GL: Yes, a concentrated universe that for most bare monads nothing is distinct, in relief and stronger in flavour. 

3:16: So are these bare monads kind of unconscious? 

GL: In a stupor, yes. 

3:16: What are the properties of a monad? 

GL: Since monads are nothing other than representations of phenomena with a transition to new phenomena it is clear that in monads there is perception on account of the representation, and appetition on account of the transition ; and there are no principles from which anything else could be sought. 

3:16: So are there monads that are more than simple monads? I guess we must be more than simple? 

GL: Since sensation is more than a simple perception I think the general name of monad or entelechy is sufficient for simple substances which only have perceptions, and that we should only call those substances souls where perceptions are more distinct and accompanied by memory. We observe that when animals have the perception of something which strikes them, and when they previously had a similar perception of that thing, then, through a representation in their memory, they expect that which was attached to the thing in the perception, and are led to have sensations similar to those they had before. Men act like beasts insofar as the sequence of their perceptions results from the principle of memory alone. We are all mere empirics in three fourths of our actions. 

3:16: Presumably that fourth part is significant? 

GL: It is through the knowledge of necessary truths , which enable us to think of that which is called ’I’ and enable us to consider that this or that is in us. And thus, thinking of ourselves, we think of being, of substance, of the simple and the composite, of the immaterial and of God himself, by conceiving that that which is limited in us is limitless in him. And these reflective acts furnish the principal objects of our reasonings. Let’s face it, if an intelligent creature had only distinct thoughts it would be God, its wisdom would be without bounds: that is one of the results of my meditations. As son as there is a mixture of confused thoughts, there is sense, there is matter. For these confused thoughts come from the relation of all things one to the other by way of duration and extent. Thus it is in my philosophy there is no rational body without some organic body and there is no created spirit entirely detached from matter. 

3:16: How do monads relate to each other? 

GL: In the way in which I define perception and appetite, all monads must be endowed with them. I hold perception to be the representation of plurality in the simple, and appetite to be the striving from one perception to another. But these two things occur in all monads, for otherwise a monad would have no relation to the rest of the world. Solitary monads don’t exist: they are monads not monks. 

3:16: Just to help us here, what’s meant by ‘perception’ when applied to monads? I suspect it’s a bit special? 

GL: Perception is the expression of multiplicity in a unity or in a simple substance. Because each thing has intercourse with all others the series of its imminent operations expresses the whole universe. Monads are nothing other than representations of phenomena with a transition to new phenomena it is clear that in them perception occurs on account of representation and appetite occurs on account of the transition; nor there are principles from which anything else could be sought. Furthermore, as in us the will corresponds to the intellect, so the appetite – or the impulse to act which tends towards a new perception – corresponds to perception in every primitive monad. In fact, not only is the variety of the object represented in the perceiver , but also the variation of the representation itself, because even that which needs to be represented is varied. 

3:16: Is it because monads are physically located relative to others that they're distinct from God? 

GL: God alone is above all matter, since he is its author. But creatures free or free from matter would at the same time be divorced from the universal connection, like deserters from the general order. Thus, although each created monad represents the whole universe it more distinctively represents the body which is particularly affected by it, and whose entelechy it constitutes. And just as this body expresses the whole universe through the interconnection of all matter in the plenum, the soul also represents the whole universe by representing the body, which belongs to it in a particular way. 

3:16: So for you, let’s be clear, reality consists in monads and their internal modifications? 

GL: Yes. 

3:16: So matter itself is nothing but monads? 

GL: A substance is either simple, such as a soul, which has no parts, or is composite, such as an animal, which consists of a soul and an organic body. But an organic body, like every other body, is merely an aggregate of animals or other things which are living and therefore organic, or finally of small objects or masses ; but these also are finally resolved into living things, from which it is evident that all bodies are finally resolved into living bodies, and that what in the analysis of substances, exist ultimately are simple substances – namely, souls, or, if you prefer a more general term, monads, which are without parts. For even though every substance has an organic body which corresponds to it – otherwise it would not have any kind of orderly relation to other things in the universe, - yet by itself it is without parts. And because an organic body, or any body whatsoever, can again be resolved into substances endowed with organic bodies, it is evident that in the end there are simple substances alone, and that in them are the sources of all things and of the modifications that come to things. 

3:16: So are you an Idealist? 

GL: In a sense I am Richard. Considering the matter carefully we must say that there is nothing in things but simple substances and in them perception and appetite. Moreover , matter and motion are not substances or things as much as they are the phenomena of perceivers, the reality of which is situated in the harmony of the perceivers with themselves (at different times) and with other perceivers. But I don’t really eliminate body, but reduce it to what it is. I show that corporeal mass, which is thought of something over and above simple substances, is not a substance but a phenomenon resulting from simple substances, which alone have unity and absolute reality. It is necessary that these simple substances exist everywhere. In the mass of extension, or rather, of extended things, or, as I prefer, in the multitude of things, I say that there is no unity, but rather innumerable unities. Matter is nothing but a phenomenon grounded in things, like the rainbow or the mock-sun, all reality belongs only to unities. Substantial unities are not parts but foundations of phenomena. 

3:16: So this sounds like Idealism, but you say that although our minds produce the phenomenon, God produces the thing don’t you? 

GL: Yes, our mind produces the phenomenon; the divine mind the thing. For God expresses everything perfectly, all at once, the possible and the existent, past, present and future. He is the universal source of all, and all the individual Monads imitate him as far as possible for creatures to do so. 

3:16:  Is this different from Spinoza’s metaphysics? 

GL: According to Spinoza there is only one substance. He would be right if there were no monads; then everything except God would be of a passing nature and would vanish into simple accidents or modifications, since there would be no substantial foundation in things, such as consists in the existence of monads. 

3:16: What’s death in your view then? 

GL: The substance that has perception never ceases to represent since the universe never ceases to act. Death is nothing more than a state of highly confused perceptions which differs only more or less from the state in which one finds oneself when one sleeps without having dreams one can remember or when one is in a faint. But there are reasons to think that these confused perceptions regenerate themselves, as it happens when we awake from slumber because that which is a representation of the universe would not remain forever in confusion. 

3:16: So what is the body and the corporeal in this theory of yours if as you say monads are the true atoms of nature and the elements of things? Is yours a powers ontology? 

GL: Active force , which as you say Richard might not inappropriately be called power, as some do, is twofold, that is, either primitive, inherent in every corporeal substance per se, or derivative which is found in different degrees. Indeed primitive force, which is nothing but the first entelechy, corresponds to the soul or substantive form. Passive force is also either primitive or derivative. 

3:16: You actually combine this idea of force with the holy trinity and reject chemical trinities as mistaken chemistry don't you? 

GL: Everything that is said of salt, sulphur and mercury as principles of things are but mere metaphorical games. I would side rather with those who recognize God as in every other spirit three properties – force, knowledge and will. For every action of a spirit requires posse, scire, velle. The primitive essence of every substance consists of force and it is this force in God which means that God necessarily is, and that everything that is must emanate from him. This trinity (force, knowledge and will) is more distinct and more solid than that of salt, sulphur and mercury, which only issues from a misunderstood chemistry. 

3:16: Are bodies aggregates? 

GL: Yes. Simple things alone are true, the rest are only beings through aggregation and therefore phenomena. They exist by convention not in reality. There is no need of extended substance. True substances are monads. If corporeal substance is something real over and above monads – as a line is taken to be something over and above points – we shall have to say that corporeal substance consists in a certain union, or rather in a real unifier superadded by monads by God. 

3:16: Now, one of the big questions facing us is explaining how minds and bodies interact. It’s become known as THE hard question. So how does your metaphysics answer this? You didn’t like Descartes and Malebranche’s attempts do you? 

GL: No. I was led, little by little to a view that surprised me but which seems inevitable and which, in fact, has very great advantages and rather considerable beauty. We must say that God originally created the soul in such a way that everything must arise for it from its own depths, through a perfect spontaneity relative to itself, and yet with a perfect conformity relative to external things. There will be a perfect agreement among all the substances producing the same effect that would be noticed if they communicated through the transmission of species or qualities, as the common philosophers imagine they do. 

3:16: So is this the pre-arranged harmony that you talked about before? Is this a relation between body and soul, but not a causal one? 

GL: Yes. The states of soul and body agree with each other, though they have no causal connection. 

3:16: This doesn’t seem any better than Descartes’s explanation of the unity of mind and body, or any version of Occasionalism either? 

GL: I have to admit I would be greatly mistaken if I objected against the Cartesians that the agreement which, according to them, God maintains immediately between the soul and body does not create a genuine unity, because most certainly my pre-established harmony could not do it any better. My aim was to explain naturally what they explain by perpetual miracles and in doing so I attempted only to give an explanation of the phenomena. This metaphysical union is not a phenomenon I have taken upon myself to look for an explanation of it. 

3:16: Nevertheless you do have moments when you seem to be an Aristotelian hylomorphist  where you’re actually proposing a true unity to soul-body composites – your theory does at times sound like a Roman Catholic orthodoxy? 

GL: Man is an entity endowed with true unity that his soul has given to him not withstanding the fact that the mass of his body is divided into organs, vessels, humors, spirits, and that the parts are undoubtedly full of an infinite number of other corporeal substances endowed with their forms. 

3:16: Are you saying that the unity of minds and bodies is not because of pre-arranged harmony but relies on the structure of composites – either form and matter are entities in their own right or else form and matter are aspects of a single thing? 

GL: I distinguish the soul from matter, namely , primary matter, which is the primitive passive power; from the monad completed by these two things; form the mass which is secondary matter, that is, the organic machine for which innumerable subordinate monads come together; from the animal, that is, the corporeal substance which the monad dominating in the machine makes one. 

3:16: Are form and matter aspects of a single thing? Are mind and body aspects of a single thing. 

GL: Seems about right. Composite substance does not formally consist in monads and their subordination, for then it would be a mere aggregate, that is, an accidental being; rather , it consists in primitive active and passive force, from which arise the qualities and the actions and passions of the composite, which are perceived by the senses, if they are assumed to be more than phenomena. 

3:16: You used a term earlier – ‘the organic machine’ - and elsewhere you’ve talked of ‘divine machines of nature.’ You grant living things a prominent place in your natural philosophy don’t you? Why have organic bodies such importance for you? 

GL: The discovery of causes without which we could not expect great advancements in physics, medicine, comes from profound and quasi-geometrical thoughts. For our body is a hydraulic and pneumatic machine. And it contains fluids which act not only by their weight and other modalities manifest to the senses but also by secret processes, namely solutions, precipitations, evaporations, freezing and indeed filtrations, as well as by numerous other modalities by which complex bodies are resolved into perceptible parts. If reasons borrowed from geometry and mechanics are not provided which apply equally well to perceptible and imperceptible realities, nature will escape us because of its subtlety. 

3:16: And reason supplements experience and in this way you endorse the use of thought experiments and modelling? 

GL: Of course. Here above all reason must supply for the lack of experience, for reason may consider some corpuscle one hundred thousand times more subtle than a grain of dust flying in the air and compare it to other corpuscles of equal subtlety with no less facility than the playing ball one hold’s in ones hands. 

3:16: Are you opposed to Artificial intelligence, and thinking machines and so on ? Why doesn’t your view that we’re machines endorse the thought that some day we will build artificial intelligences? 

GL: The parts of our artificial machines are not machines. 

3:16: Eh? 

GL: The mechanism of the world is built with such wisdom that these wonderful things depend upon the progression of the machine itself, organic things particularly evolving by a certain predetermined order. The organism is essential to matter, but to matter arranged by a supreme wisdom. This is why I define the organism or natural Machine as a machine every part of which is a machine; consequently its subtle contrivance goes to infinity, since nothing is small enough to be neglected, while the parts of our artificial machines are not machines. 

3:16: Don’t you think as we get better at this, with our improved algorithms and quantum computing and all that, we’ll get there eventually? 

GL: The organism of animals is a mechanism that supposes divine preformation. What follows from it is purely natural and entirely mechanical. Whatever is performed in the body of man and any animal is no less mechanical than what is performed in a watch. 

3:16: But doesn’t that suggest we will one day be able to make a living mechanism? 

GL: No. The difference is as ought to be between a machine of divine invention and the workmanship of an artist as limited as man. I should hope that men expert in explaining the mechanism of nature would do so progressively farther and care not to reduce everything, as the Cartesians do, by a sudden leap to first principles: magnitude, figure and motion, which is impossible for us to do, but analyse gradually compounded realities into simpler ones which bring us nearer to principles. 

3:16: And you’re also saying that animals have souls – contrary to Cartesians? 

GL: Yes, but going back to that last point Richard, I believe on the contrary that it is consistent neither with the order nor with the beauty or the reason of things that there should be something vital or imminently active only in a small part of matter, when it should imply greater perfection if it were in all. 

3:16: So how does medicine fit into your approach to this machine approach to organisms? 

GL: Medicine is the most necessary of the natural sciences. It is the summit and principal fruit of our knowledge of bodies. Nothing is more precious to men than health. This might be said all the more fervently by me, who is not a doctor, since I will be less suspect of seeking to advance my own usefulness. 

3:16: You think that in relation to human bodies understood as machines we need to hold on to the notion of final causes and purpose don’t you? 

GL: Any machine is best defined in terms of its final cause Richard. 

3:16: Why? Descartes didn’t think so. 

GL: So that in the description of the parts it is apparent in what way each of them is coordinated with others for the intended use. 

3:16: Is this an excuse for an a priori approach to bodies and medicine? 

GL: Good heavens no Richard. Tests should be made. 

3:16: You think testing on animals to find out about humans is ok don’t you? 

GL: We can test medicines on animals when we please and from this make a conclusion according to its analogy to human beings. Sadly we can’t make such tests on humans. 

3:16: You think it should be as easy to go to a doctor as it is to see a priest for confession don’t you? 

GL: I do Richard. There should be different times of year during which every person performs his medical confession and says everything and sketches out the preceding period, including anything that he will consider with even a little anxiety. 

3:16: Cool. And you think doctors should share these confessions? 

GL: I do Richard. Not only shall we progress in understanding illnesses that proceed in singular and not yet investigated fashion but a vast thesaurus of the most beautiful observations will soon be compiled which will be of much use to the human race. 

3:16: Now, although you think humans couldn’t build an artificial conscious intelligence, you do think we can make calculating machines don’t you? You were one of the first to see the power of computerization weren’t you ? 

GL: If we could transform all figures into thinkable ones, I do not see what could still be desirable, to build an arithmetical instrument to do arithmetic mechanically without any work of the mind. The machine shows that the human mind can find the means of transplanting itself in such a way into inanimate matter that it gives to matter the power of doing more than it could have done by itself. 

3:16: Is computerization about the mere appearance or imitation of intelligence? 

GL: Yes. The machine convinces via the senses those who have difficulty conceiving how the creator could house the appearance of a mind a little more generally in a body, however furnished with many organs; since even brass can receive the imitation of an operation of reason which concerns a particular or determinate truth but also more difficult ones, especially the Pythagoreans believed one could distinguish a human being from an animal and to place as part of the definition of man the faculty of using numbers. 

3:16: You didn’t manage to make one did you? 

GL: I was not deterred. 

3:16: True say! Let’s turn to history. You don’t see the direction of history in terms of eternal circles nor straight lines of progress do you? 

GL: It would be agreeable that the same human being should be brought back not simply by returning to the earth but as if through a spiral or winding way , thence progressing to something greater. This is to go back to leap better forward, as at a ditch. History is gradual improvement and elevation. Even if a previous century returns for what concerns things which can be sensed or which can be described by books it will not return completely in all respects since there will always be differences although imperceptible and such that could not be sufficiently described in any book. For this reason it could be the case that things gradually though imperceptibly progress for the better after the revolution. 

3:16: Is history about finding the truth? 

GL: It’s like the body of an animal, where there are bones which support everything, nerves which connect them, spirits which move the humors that constitute, in turn, the nourishing juice, and finally the flesh which gives accomplishment to the entire mass. The parts of history correspond well enough to this: Chronology to the bones, genealogy to the nerves, hidden motives to the invisible spirits, useful examples to the juice and the detail of circumstances to the entire mass. However the soul of all this is truth. History without truth is a body without life, one should try never to advance anything without foundation, and purge history bit by bit of the fables which have slipped into it. It is important to know human history, and the arts and sciences which depend on it. It comprehends the universal history of time, the geography of places, the recovery of antiquities and of ancient records, such as medals, inscriptions, manuscripts etc, the knowledge of languages and what is called philology. 

I would add intellectual history which teaches us about the progress of our knowledge. Human history includes that of customs and positive laws, the fundamental laws of states, the heraldry, genealogies and the well known controversies and pretentions of princes because they cause great revolutions which envelope us and interest the societies of which we are a part. 

3:16: You have been concerned by restrictions being placed on the freedom of academics to speak about their thoughts, especially those that conflict with received dogmas. How do you see this issue of cancel culture and censorship? 

GL: If Joshua had been a disciple of Aristarchus or Copernicus he would not have changed the way he expressed himself otherwise he would have shocked the people present as well as common sense. All Copernicans, in their ordinary speech and even among themselves, when the issue is not science, will always say the sun has risen or set and will never say it of the earth. Holy Scripture serves both the truth and the proper meaning of words; it is less correct to say that it accommodates itself in the belief’s people have than to say that it transmits the greatest hidden treasures of wisdom of all kinds, for this is something more worthy of its author, God. 

3:16: But what about the censorship issue? 

GL: Censorship has been rightly applied to the audacity of those who seemed to judge Holy Scriptures less reverently, as if it had spoken accurately, with the pretext that its aim is to teach the way to salvation, not philosophy. 

One has some right to take measures to prevent the propagation of a pernicious error, but that is all one has a right to do, and those measures must be the mildest possible. Not everything which is true is always necessary therefore there is no right to condemn all errors, or always to force people to disavow them.

3:16: What are your views about happiness and justice? You seem to be drawn to both a Hobbesian egotistic hedonism and Christian charity. 

GL: In truth we will only what pleases us. Every action is an advance towards pleasure and every passion an advance toward pain. 

3:16: So is pleasure an intrinsic good? 

GL: Good is what contributes more to a creature’s joy than to its sorrow. The good of each thing is what contributes to perfection. Unfortunately what pleases us at present is often a real evil, which would displease us if the eyes of our understanding were open. Happiness is nothing other than lasting joy. However we do not incline specifically to happiness but to joy, that is to say, to something present; it is reason that leads to the future and to what lasts. 

3:16: Why do we act justly when we do act so? 

GL: No one can be obligated except to his own good. There are three grades of Natural Right: strict right – not to injure another; equity – to give to each his own; and piety – to live honourably. Piety gives perfection and effect to the others for whenever strict Right and equity are without physical bond God becomes an accessory and brings it about that whatever is useful to the public, that is, to the human race and the world , is made useful to individuals. And thus every honourable thing is useful and every base thing is harmful because God has established rewards for the just and punishments for the unjust based upon his wisdom, and what the reason of omnipotence resolves to achieve, prevails. 

3:16: Are there no natural - rather than God-given - rewards and punishments? 

GL: There can be since certainly care for one’s own preservation and benefit requires many things from men towards others which even Hobbes has observed in part. And alliances between thieves conform the bond of obligation by example while enemies to others are forced to cultivate a certain sense of duty toward each other although a law of nature that proceeds from this alone would be very imperfect. Wisdom, which is the knowledge of our own good, brings us to justice. One reason for this is the fear that we may be harmed if we do otherwise. But there is also the hope that others will do the same for us. But there are cases in which there would be no way of demonstrating that the most honorable thing is the most useful. Let’s be honest Richard, there is scarcely any precept to which one would be indispensably obligated if there was not a God who leaves no crime without punishment nor any good action without reward. 

3:16: So what makes a good person? 

GL: Whoever loves all people. There is a twofold way of desiring the good of others; one is for the sake of our own good, the other is as if it were our good. The former is of the calculating man, the latter is that of the lover. The former is the affection of a master toward his servant, the latter of the father to his son; the former of one in need of an instrument, the latter of a lover towards the beloved. One is desired for the sake of something other than the good of others, another for the sake of others itself. 

3:16: Ok, but how can another’s good be the same as our own and yet sought for its own sake? 

GL: As a means but not an end. It can be our good as an end and desired in itself when it is pleasant. All pleasant things are desired in itself and whatever is desired in itself is pleasant; other things are desired for the sake of what is pleasant according as they produce it, preserve it, or eliminate opposing things. 

3:16: Is this a notion of disinterested love? 

GL: It is. From the notion of love we seek at the same time our good for ourselves and the good of the beloved object for itself, when the good of this object is immediately , finally and in itself our end, our pleasure, and our good – as happens in regard to all things desired because they are pleasing in themselves , and are consequently good of themselves, even if one should have no regard to consequences; these are ends and not means. Justice therefore will be the habit of loving others as long as it can be done prudently. The true and perfect definition of justice is the habit of loving others, or taking pleasure from the expectation of another’s good whenever the occasion occurs. Right is the power of doing what is just. 

3:16: And is love of God part of this? 

GL: He who loves God is wise and will love everyone , but each one more the distinct traces of divine virtue shine forth in him and in whom he will expect a keener and stronger ally in respect of the common good, or what comes to the same thing, in looking after the glory of God, who is the giver of all good things. He who does good for God or neighbour finds pleasure in the act itself, for that is the nature of love, and does not not need any other incentive or the command of a superior. 

3:16: So how does this help give us a definition of justice? 

GL: Justice is nothing other than charity regulated by wisdom; now, since charity is universal benevolence, and benevolence a habit of loving, it was necessary to define what love was. And since Love is to have feeling that finds pleasure in what accords with the happiness of the object loved , and since Wisdom is nothing other than the science of happiness I showed that happiness is the foundation of justice. 

3:16: Is happiness just a feeling we experience at a certain moment ? 

GL: No. Happiness is the state of lasting joy. He who is happy certainly does not feel his happiness continuously. But it is enough that he is in a state to feel joy as often as he thinks of it, and at other times a joyousness in his conduct and his nature arises from it. Happiness consists in a lasting state of possession of what is necessary in order to taste pleasure. Happiness consists in the perfection of the mind. 

3:16: You trained as a lawyer didn’t you? Presumably then, the law is very important to you.

GL: Well Richard, jurisprudence is the science of the just, that is, the science of freedom and duties. I call it science, albeit practical since all its proposals can be demonstrated from the mere definition of the good man, and do not depend on induction and examples. I call it a science of the just because at the same time it shows him what is impossible for him to do and what is possible for him to omit. I call it a science of duties, that is, of what is impossible for a good man and necessary to him, that is, impossible to omit, since the remaining actions that are not excluded are considered just and indifferent, namely, possible and contingent. 

3:16: And you’re also involved in politics, in particular the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and you’ve been a champion of the notion of Reich haven’t you throughout your career. But you’ve also been interested in social reform haven’t you? 

GL: Above everything one must seek means of obviating public misery. For extreme poverty is the mother of all crimes and the source of sicknesses from which it follows that one must furnish the poor with the means of earning their livelihood, not only by using charity and charitable foundations to this end but also by taking interest in agriculture, by furnishing to artisans materials and a market, by educating them to make their productions better, and finally, by putting an end to idleness and to abusive practices in manufactures and in commerce. 

3:16: And throughout everything you’ve discussed here today I can’t help but notice that God and theology are mixed intimately with your philosophical thinking. Do you think it possible to prove the existence of God as I know many people who don’t believe there is one? 

GL: There is nothing more clichéd today than demonstrations of the existence of God. It is almost like proofs of squaring the circle. Yet I believe indeed that almost all the methods which have been used to prove the existence of God are good, and could serve the purpose if they were perfected. 

3:16: Your ontological argument rewrites the Cartesian one so that it goes: God is the perfect being. Existence is a perfection. If the perfect being is possible then it exists. It is possible. Therefore God exists. Is that about right? 

GL: Yes. 

3:16: You also have a non-a priori argument , a cosmological argument for God’s existence don’t you? 

GL: Well, recall, the great principle, little used commonly, is that nothing takes place without sufficient reason. Assuming this principle the first question we have a right to ask will be: why is there something rather than nothing? Since the ultimate ground must be in something which is of metaphysical necessity, and since reason for an existing thing must come from something that actually exists it follows that there must exist some one entity of metaphysical necessity, that is, there must be an entity whose essence is existence, and therefore something must exist which differs from the plurality of things, which differs from the world, which we have granted and shown is not of metaphysical necessity. 

3:16: Does our knowledge of essences and truths brings us into contact with God ? 

GL: God is the only immediately external object of souls , since there is nothing except him outside of the soul which acts immediately upon it. Our thoughts with all that is in us, insofar as it includes some perfection, are produced without interruption by his continuous operation. And it is thus that our mind is affected immediately by the eternal ideas which are in God, since our mind has thoughts which are in correspondence with them and participate in them. It is in this sense that we can say that our mind sees all things in God. 

3:16: So is there room for faith in your theology? 

GL: Faith is truth which God has revealed in an extraordinary way. It can be compared to experience as regards the motives that verify it depends on the experience of those who have seen the miracles, on which revelation is founded, and on the Tradition worthy of credibility, which has transmitted them to us, both through the Scriptures, and through the report of those who preserved them. Same as our beliefs in China rest on the experience of those who have seen China, and on the credibility of their report when we give credence to the wonders that are narrated to us of that distant country. 

3:16: And you distinguish between human faith and divine faith don’t you? 

GL: Those of one kind are explicable, those of the other kind are inexplicable. Those who say that they find in themselves a divine internal light or a ray of light that makes them feel some truth , base themselves in some inexplicable reasons. I see not only the Protestants but also the Roman Catholic use this ray. They demand a light of grace from heaven capable of producing a full conviction which forms what is called divine faith. 

3:16: What do you say to Locke who argues that faith must be grounded in reason? 

GL: If you take faith to be only what rests on motives of credibility and detach it from inward grace all that Locke says is incontestable. There are many judgments which are more evident than those that depend on these motives. But the inward grace of the Holy Spirit makes up for this immediately in a supernatural manner, and this is what the theologians call divine faith. God never bestows it unless what he is making one believe is grounded in reason otherwise he would destroy the means of knowing the truth and would open the door to Enthusiasm – but it is not necessary that all those who have divine faith know these reason an even less that they always have them before their eyes. Otherwise simple people and the feeble-minded would never have true faith and the most enlightened people would not have it when they might need it most since they cannot always remember the reasons for believing. 

There can be faith even when one does not think, or perhaps never thought, of the grounds for persuasion sought by human reason. Divine faith itself is something more than an opinion, and does not depend upon the occasions or the motives that have given it birth; it goes beyond the intellect, and takes possession of the will and of the heart, to make us act with warmth and pleasure, as the law of God commands, without further need to think of reasons, or stop at argumentative difficulties that the mind might envisage. 

3:16: So in this context what’s Reason for you? 

GL: The concatenation of truths, but especially, when it is compared to faith, of those truths that the human mind can attain naturally without being helped by the lights of faith. 

3:16: So don’t you agree with Bayle when he argues that reason can beguile and fool us? 

GL: It is impossible for reason to deceive us when there is a sound concatenation of truths and objections in due form. What is against reason is against the absolutely certain and indispensible truths; and what is above reason is only against what one commonly experiences or comprehends. I am amazed to see that there are people of spirit who fight against this distinction, and that Mr Bayle is amongst them. A truth is above reason where our spirit cannot comprehend it, and such is the Holy trinity; such are the miracles reserved for God alone, as, for example, the Creation. But a truth will never be against reason and in the case of a dogma fought and refuted by reason, very far from being incomprehensible. One can say that nothing is easier to comprehend nor manifest than its absurdity. 

3:16: Does this mean that it’s ok to be confused a bit about what faith is delivering? 

GL: It is not always necessary for faith to know what sense of the words is true as long as we understand it, nor do we positively reject it, but rather leave it in doubt even though we might be inclined towards some other sense. Indeed it suffices that we believe in the first place that whatever sense is contained in the words , is true, and the first and foremost in the mysteries in which the practice does not change, whatever the meaning may finally be. Nonetheless it is necessary that the intellect should not fall nakedly over the words like a parrot., but that some sense should appear before it , albeit a general and confused one, and almost disjunctive, as the country fellow, or other common man, has of nearly all theoretical things. So this faith will be disjunctive, inclining nevertheless to one side. And this is in fact, if you pay attention, what many Christians do in practice. 

3:16: Mind you, you’re not averse to tackling philosophical theology and Christian doctrines are you? As an example, could you give us your take on the metaphysics of our bodily resurrection? 

GL: Well, why couldn’t the soul always keep a subtle body, organized in its own way, which could even one day resume what is needed of its visible body in the resurrection, since the glorious body is granted to the blessed, and since the ancient fathers have granted a subtle body to angels? Because as regards the beatific vision of the blessed souls, this is compatible with the functions of their glorified bodies, which will not fail to be organic in their own way. 

3:16: And theodicy, the problem of evil raised by an all powerful, all knowing good god, is also something you have looked into isn’t it – in fact didn’t you create the neologism from two Greek words, theos and dike – God and Justice? 

GL: Yes, the lament of the damned is the inexorable difficulty placed before us, whatever sophistry we may employ: the apparent justice of the laments of the damned , that they were born in such a way, sent into the world in such a way, came upon such times, persons and occasions that they were not able not to perish; their minds , occupied prematurely by vicious thoughts, existed in circumstances that favoured evil, that stimulated evil; they lacked circumstances that would have released them, that would have restrained them, as if the fates conspired to ruin the wretched. They curse the series of the universe, which also involves them. Well, of course evil men damn themselves since they are forever impenitent and turn away from God. A burning hatred of God is the nature of despair. Mr Arnauld finds it strange that so many millions of pagans have not been condemned; I would find it much stranger if they had been: I don’t know why we are so inclined to believe that people are damned or sunk in eternal miseries , even if they could not help it; but this leads to thoughts hardly compatible with the goodness and justice of God. 

3:16: Finally, what are views on toleration? 

GL: It is against natural right to punish someone because he is of some opinion, no matter which, as opposed to punishing someone for some actions, for the penalty for one who is mistaken is to be taught. 

3:16: And for the readers here at 3:16, are there five books you can recommend to take us further into your philosophical world? 


Descartes Meditations 

Spinoza Ethics 

Locke Essay Concerning Human Understanding 

Burnet Exposition of the 39 Articles of the Church of England 

Duns Scotus

Other Interviews: Newton,  Berkeley,  Hobbes,  Locke, Cudworth, Hume, Leibniz, Leporin Erxleben, Fichte, Schiller, Herder, Kierkegaard, Schelling, Kant, Dilthey, Marx, Descartes, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche

About the Author

Richard Marshall is still biding his time.